Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Shrinking Sistahs

In case you have missed the news for the past week, African American women are shrinking!
The Center for Disease Control released a study this past week that showed:

"The average height of a black woman born in the 1980s is just under 5 feet 4 inches; her mother, born in the 1960s, is more than half an inch taller. Even her grandmother, born in the 1940s, is a bit taller. The average white woman born in the 1980s is about half an inch taller than her mother. "

The reason why I responded to this new was because the researchers said, "height is a very good overall indicator of how well the human organism thrives in its socioeconomic environment."

So now you have it! All of the adversity African-American manage to overcome on a daily basis does more than burden the soul, cause high blood pressure, and hypertension. All of the problems within the home and community that many African-American women must learn to sort through interferes with her ability to thrive and remain competitive in the environment. So the environmental issues for African-American women would include competing socially, economically, mentally, etc.

Those of us who study race and gender dynamics in America understand this already but now its played itself out in a Darwinistic way.

Very interesting news.

2008 = Politics

I have no doubt that these six people
dominated your conversations this year.
Have you added CNN to your TV favorites yet?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Daddy's Girls Excerpt

MTV is debuting another reality show: Daddy's Girls. I am a sucker for the Hills but I am really excited about seeing positive images of African-American women on television. I was very proud to see MTV approve Run's House and this spin-off is like icing on the cake!
Sorry "New York" but these women are entrepreneurs and true role models for young women America, especially women of color.

Ok, so they are a little spoiled but it beats seeing episode after episode of profane language with half-naked women as if young women like Angela and Vanessa Simmons do not exist.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Thanksgiving goes beyond Thanksgiving Day.

This Holiday Season completes the end of one of the toughest years of our life. I hope you have expressed gratittude and thanks for everything you have. There will be many people waking up on Christmas morning with heavy hearts. Pray for your neighbors....and never stop giving thanks.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Green Eggs & Ham

Since everyone knows that I spoil my sister, I thought I would share this recent news while shopping for Christmas gifts.

Although my sister loves everything Disney/Dora, I decided this Christmas that I would buck the system of buying Disney/Dora and attempt to share classic gifts. While shopping for classic books, I decided to pick up Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs & Ham amongst other books I knew she did not own. Of course before going to Barnes & Noble, I decided to look online for the cheapest prices.

When I got to I was floored by this review of Green Eggs & Ham when I read this:
"If you're searching for a literary example of peer pressure, look no further than Dr. Seuss's subtly horrifying "Green Eggs and Ham." The "hero" of this tale, Sam-I-Am, spends the entirety of the book trying to force green eggs and ham upon a nameless skeptic. The "villain" turns down the offer several times, but Sam-I-Am persists, going so far as to follow him home in order to make him try the green eggs and ham. He uses several textbook methods of peer pressure, including the famous, "You'll never know that you don't like it if you don't try it." He refuses to respect the man's right to say no, and badgers him incessantly until he caves under the pressure.

What disgusts me most about the end of the story is that once the man tries the green eggs and ham, he loves them and is simply another addition to a pool of addicts. Dr. Seuss's tragic allegory for the rising drug use among young people that plagued his time period is brilliant, but certainly not appropriate for young children. Sam-I-Am is too easily twisted to become a hero, opening the antagonist's mind to new things, rather than a metaphor for Satan as I believe was originally intended.

In conclusion, do not read this book to your children unless you are willing to explain to them that people like Sam-I-Am should be avoided at all costs, and that they should never follow the path of the story's antagonist. "

Wow. I have no words at this moment.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Barbie vs. Bratz

In case you have not heard the news from Toy Departments across America, the Bratz dolls will be leaving the shelves very soon. Apparently, Mattel (the maker of Barbie) filed a law suit claiming that the creater of Bratz came up with the idea while working for Mattel.

Although I am not a parent, I have a five year old sister who plays with dolls. This Christmas I refuse to purchase anything Barbie or Hannah Montana. This is a decision for parents to ultimately make, but as an adult with a very young sister I have concerns too.

I am concerned about the number of decades the image of Barbie has dominated the toy aisle! Forget how the ethnic Barbies are never named Barbie. Forget the unrealistic body, the blonde hair, the companion Ken doll, the various Professions, and the material items Barbie accumulates....

Images like the Barbie Doll contributes to the inferiority complex minority girls spend their adult years trying to defeat.

Bratz is a legitimate competitor. For once we have dolls on the shelves that emphasize non-European physical features. The arguments most people have about the Bratz dolls include the Urban wear and physical features. I think most of the physical features are a reflection of non-European women. Sure the clothes could be a bit more modest, but Barbie too has her share of interesting fashions too. In the end, I advocate for Bratz because of the diversity and the proximity to real features of ethnic women.
What I will miss about the Bratz dolls:
1. The Lips
2. Their shapes--Barbie eat your heart out!
3. Their names (there is a Sasha in the group ode to Sasha Obama living in the White House)
4. Their Diversity

I really think that people are upset about Barbie finally having competition. The Bratz dolls are more of a reality than Barbie for lots of girls in my family. The Bratz phenomenon is about someone finally getting the message that there are girls of different shades around the world that cannot relate to Barbie. Unfortunately, too many Americans consider Barbie a classic and shy away at any real diversity in the doll world.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bittersweet Caroline

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
--Romeo & Juliet (II, ii, 1-2).

After conversations with friends, reading my favorite blogs, and tracking the story in the NYT & CNN, I find Caroline Kennedy's bid for the U.S. Senate bittersweet. I love her support and commitment to public service, but honestly believe that her name positions her to be the new Senator from NY. Its amazing to see so many changes in politics. Yet, this example shows that as "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Barack Obama = two steps forward
Caroline Kennedy = two steps back

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Black and Missing: The East Charlotte Murders

After posting Caylee Anthony's picture on my blog yesterday, I let curiosity get the best of me. I wandered through Google and many random websites to find pictures and/or stories of missing African-American woman and children. Needless to say, I was completely moved by many stories that never make it to Nancy Grace or other prime-time television programs.

The most striking story of all was about the serial killer Henry Louis Wallace.

Mr. Wallace was a young black man born in South Carolina that went on a killing spree in the early 90s in East Charlotte, NC. He managed to kill over 10 young Black women, all under 25 years old. As I read the trial transcript, read the memorial websites for each of the victims, and read the commentary from websites like TruTV---I grew angry. One of the victim's mother mentioned how this man managed to kill so many women without interruption from the police: they were black and working class.

Undoubtedly, after reading the court transcripts I had difficulty getting to bed. I was horrified that this happened in my life time and I never heard the story. As my night went on, I was really anxious and upset over the details that I'd poured over. Naturally as I counselor I thought about the psychology behind the story and put a lot of time into trying to figure this guy out. At the end of the night/morning, I was exhausted and afraid that I cared too much about the case. This case had such an impact on me because these women have many similarities to me--young, black, with working-class roots.

I could go on and on about this case forever, but I decided to share this blog because I want to give voice to those who we never hear or see on television. It is a shame to know that if you are not white and are not part of the middle class, your tragedy may never be shared to assist in search for missing loved ones or their kidnappers/murderers.

So today, I want to recognize the victims of Mr. Wallace. They were:

Tashanda Bethea
Sharon Lavette Nance
Caroline Love
Shawna D. Hawk
Audrey Ann Spain
Valencia M. Jumper
Michelle Stinson
Vanessa Little Mack
Betty Jean Baucum
Brandi June Henderson
Deborah Slaughter

Please visit You Tube to watch the various memorial videos:

Please pray for their families.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Caylee Anthony

WFTV News in Orlando reports this morning of a Young Child found near the family's home. Keep this family and all the families with missing Children in your prayers.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Inauguration Ball

So apparently the Political Fashionistas of America are trying to decide what Mrs. Obama should wear to the Inauguration Ball. Visit this site to see the sketches.

I kind of like this Michael Kors sketch....but then the Peter Som "Winter White" is nice too.. but I'll let you decide.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I could not remain silent.

The latest on O. J. Simpson annoys me to no end! This man could never receive a fair trial in this country after the 1995 acquittal. No matter your position on and believe that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mrs. Obama's White House

Jolene Ivey's commentary on Michelle Obama's future life in the White House brought back images, discussions, and movies that captured the essence of the "Mammy" caricatures that managed to dominate the representation of Black women in the media. In her commentary, Ivey says, "From the time when Africans were dragged to these shores as slaves, one of the jobs that fell to these women who weren't working in the fields was caring for the children of their owners" and even after slavery, "it was common for black women to leave their own children at home to fend for themselves and go to work for low wages as domestics in the homes of well-off white families."

Ivey clearly brings to mind characters like "Mammy" in Gone with the Wind, "Aunt Jemina" on the Pancake box, "Lucrezia Borgia" in the film Mandingo, and "Annie Johnson" in Imitation of Life. I like to think how often these characters and other real women of color had to anticipate the mood of their employers/masters in order to keep the peace. Do you not recall that Mammy knew exactly what to say to keep people in the home happy? Sometimes she placated her owner's moods with food or kind words. Do you remember the sacrifices these women made and how they always helped things come together?
Michelle Obama is intelligent, progressive, caring, and nuturing. I would argue that Mammy, Aunt Jemina, Lucrezia Borgia, and Annie Johnson were too. These women created a tradition in the Black community of making a way out of no way. In many ways, Michelle Obama makes change happen out of no way too.

Ivey beams with excitment about Mrs. Obama's future life in the White House because it resonates with her own privileged background as a woman of color. Although Mrs. Obama's experience will be one of privilege, the fundamental drive to succeed that comes from within Mrs. Obama is something that she shares with her foremothers. Just as the Mammy, Mrs. Obama will have to nuture the wounds of others' children. She will have to anticipate potential problems and respond in a thought provoking manner. As much as Ivey appears giddy over the thought of Mrs. Obama's ability to be Black, educated, and at home with the children, the truth is that in so many ways the American public is her new baby. Although Barack will be the President, Mrs. Obama will become the First Lady, a role with its own set of spoken and unspoken responsibilities.

But I am more excited about Mrs. Obama's image in the White House defying the negative images of the Mammy caricatures. For once, we will witness healthy images of Black women. We will witness the truth of a Black Woman's ability to be loving, smart, sexy, fun, beautiful, strong, independent, beautiful, fashionable, honest, attentive, driven, and happy.
The Black woman's allegiance to her community has been expensive--overworked, underpaid, inconsiderate male counterparts, health concerns, media scrutiny, legal lynching of her children, and a scapegoat for both community and institutional problems.

Mrs. Obama is a refreshing outlook for the future.

Meeting President-Elect Obama Halfway

Now that the 2008 Election season has passed, I am challenging all of you to meet President-Elect Barack Obama half way. On election night Barack Obama said he needed each of us to assist him in making change happen in America. I believe one of the most important ways of making change possible is by actively participating in the lives of children.

We have all heard the alarming statistics measuring the success rate of children living in both urban and rural America. Billions of donations have been made for many years to aid neighborhoods in crime prevention, educational, and life enrichment programs for these children. Yet, far too often we find that many of America's youth continue the family cycle of drug use, involvement in crime and incarceration, teenage pregnancy, etc.

My challenge to you is to be more active in your community.

Although non-profits love receiving your donation dollars, especially in these difficult economic times, the value of pairing up with someone who could benefit from your experience goes beyond words. Community mentors are pivotal in communities that continue to see high crime rates and poor education programs.

I have been a community mentor since my Senior year in High School. That's right. I was a part of programs on campus that catered to Elementary aged students, including reading programs and drug education programs that visited area schools. My involvement in youth programs continued while working with organizations like the Salvation Army, and even now a program out of Atlanta called Fifteen. I am committed to making sure that my success is not in vain.

See my mentee's story on Essential 2 Life's Website.

This is just merely one example of meeting President-Elect Obama half way.

I know plenty of family members who assist other children in the family on different needs. Sometimes helping those really close to you is an easier way to transition in to being actively involved in the lives of others. So if mentoring a "random" child/teenager in the neighborhood does not sit well with you, perhaps helping another family member could be sufficient. And by the way, this does not necessarily translate into loaning people money. I am more concerned with loaning time and fellowship.

There are numerous ways to get involved with your community, contact the local community organizations in your area to find in what ways your talents/experiences could better assist your neighbors.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

All of this means....

That it is ok to live in this skin I'm in.

I can walk down the street with my head a little higher.

Having an amazing example of a Black Family, Black Manhood, Black Womanhood, and Black Girlhood on the national scene....

As much as his Presidency would be about the people and our quest for change, it will be about Black people and our ability to persevere and somehow move forward despite adversity.

This election is so racial for me because for years we've been bombarded with negative images of our Brothers and Sisters and this is the ultimate redemption of all of those images.

A part of me wants to wrap him up and keep him to myself for the "Black Community", but I am just too proud and cannot wait to share him with the rest of the world.

He will not be just the Black President, but the President of the United States of America.

No matter the outcome of this election: NOTHING will bring me down today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama in Prime Time

Tonight Americans will have the opportunity to see Barack Obama make his case to the country through a prime time television special. There are several media outlets describing his air-time as excessive and suggests that Obama is flaunting--in other words being "uppity." All of these comments are absolutely ridiculous. We all know what usually comes after "uppity" among certain groups in this country. I believe these people are upset over this self-made Black man!

Some of my fellow Americans are upset that Obama has managed to organize a campaign better than the GOP. The truth is that John McCain's sloppy campaign is finally facing the reality of how defeat may feel if he is not able to change voters' minds about his ability to lead the country. Although John McCain still has a chance to win this election, the Obama campaign's ability to buy air-time shows a reflection of impecable marketing, fundraising, and organizational skills.

The McCain campaign simply was not ready for someone like Barack Obama.

Everytime a Black person approaches the brink of success, someone is always there to tarnish their image by labeling him or her as "uppity" and suggest that he/she is out of place. Barack Obama is proving to the American people that our potential and "place" in America is wherever you want it to be, provided you have the courage, strength, skill, and right message.

The significance of the Obama Campaign's ability to buy 30 minutes of television is huge. Americans have witnessed numerous years of air-time devoted to reiterating the status quo and portraying stereotypical images of minorities. But for once, a prominent minority will have 30 minutes to show the American audience an amazing example of a Black person with a positive message. If the American audience tunes in to the networks as expected, millions will see Obama challenge every inferior image of Black people that has dominated the American networks since the invention of television.

Flavor Flav eat your heart out!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hudson Family

Please pray for Jennifer Hudson and her family as they grieve.

"And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Michelle Obama and the First Lady Appeal

CNN's Campbell Brown committed on the reports that the Republican National Committee spent more than $150,000 on clothes, hair and make-up for Sarah Palin on the campaign trail. I pretty much agree with everything that Brown brings to the forefront--especially the double standards.

However, can you image how different the story would be if Michelle Obama spent similar amounts of money while campaigning for Barack Obama? Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and others could not get enough of it. Michelle Obama not only has the pressure of being a woman in politics, but also a Black woman with the potential of being First Lady. She has to be modest in spending to not only be "considerate" of donors but also avoid the "golddigger" stereotype and show off the "white first lady look." Yes, I said it.

Unfortunately, the image of the First Lady is extremely important to many Americans. Women like former First Lady Jackie Kennedy played the part extremely well and challenged succeeding First Ladies to up the ante. Yet, even Mrs. Kennedy was not excluded from criticism as she wore clothing from International designers. But, Michelle Obama's problems with having to appeal to the American people extends far beyond the issues that Palin and Kennedy experienced with scrutiny from men and women about hair and clothing.

Another layer of issues for Mrs. Obama is having to wade through the historical problems black women experience with appearance. Can you image if pictures surfaced on the web and on news networks with Mrs. Obama wearing cornrows or having braids while on vacation? Don Imus would have a party. So, Michelle Obama must wear the Pearls, keep the mane tamed with the edges straight, and spend within reason.

Whew...and we have not touched on other components of presentation.


Obama/Biden '08

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

America's State of Mind

As a counselor with a National EAP company, I have the unfortunate opportunity to witness the struggles of everyday Americans. The purpose of the Employee Assistance Program provided by many employers is to assist employees on striking a balance between work and life-related issues. The bulk of the work with EAP companies centers around providing short-term counseling for a wide-range of issues--including work problems, substance abuse, stress, marital and family concerns. In addition to the counseling offered, we work with other national companies to help employees with legal issues, financial matters, childcare referrals, and eldercare resources. Needless to say, we hear it all.

With this current financial crisis, our calls from clients are becoming more severe. Most of the clients we serve are college educated homeowners with families. It is safe for me to say that most of their upbringing did not prepare them for these times. Many of our clients have a church and attend more often than not.

Despite all that, these American families are in disarray at this very moment. The workplace has become a war zone in buildings where employees once thrived and contributed daily. However, these same buildings now evoke fear in the heart of every employee, including the veterans. The pressure of performing well at all times has become a bit too much. The pressure of wondering if you will be asked to pack your belongings and not return is daunting. The pressure of worrying about the grant or loan needed to keep the organization/business operating drives employees amuck. All these things leave my clients more distracted, annoyed, paranoid, and anxious. And God forbid someone gets sick.

Even more---they bring these emotions home. Undoubtedly, their spouses (if they have a spouse) shuffle home the same way. Do they open the bills they never have the money to pay? Do they turn on the television to hear both Barack Obama and John McCain exchange words? Do they pay attention to their kids, especially the one that has been falling behind in math class?

Probably not.

Most of my clients are overwhelmed and afraid. They have family members they consider to be "ungratful." They have spouses that cheat, hide money, gamble with the rent/mortgage payment, go straight to happy hour after work, or simply leave the house and never return.

Increasingly, I receive requests for counseling from Black folk. And not just the city folk, but those who live in the rural parts of Georgia. These are the same families that would have never sought counseling 10-15 years ago. Now they do not ask for counseling, but just want someone to talk to about their "nerves." I am happy that these overwhelmed heroines are in a place where they feel comfortable seeking help.

Black men are not far behind.

I am reminded of my pastor's favorite saying: God is neither dumb, deaf, nor blind.

What do Christians do when they are stuck between a rock and hard place (e.g., pharoah's army and the Red Sea)? Pray. Have faith. The battle is not yours...

Encourage those around you to seek help if they need it.

Please share the resources on my page with anyone you know that may be going through a difficult time with the economy. As I have time, I will add more resources.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Barack Obama: Another American Story

No matter the outcome of this 2008 Election season, the story of Barack Obama will go down in history. The promise that Obama brings to Americans will have a lasting impact on generations to come--including yours. We have all witnessed the rise of an educated self-made man of color. Throughout all of the negative campaigning and rigorous screenings, Barack Obama defies all the odds set before him at birth.

So the question is: What will you tell your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren about Barack Obama?

How much of your discussion will focus on his roots: mixed ancestry, working class background, single parent/grandparents upbringing, absent father.

As much as I want to make sure that the history books get his story "right", most of my story about Obama will focus on the process to which he became the man that we love and admire at this very moment. I will be anxious to talk about his intelligence, determination, optimism, candor, down-to-earth personality, strategy, competitive spirit, bottom up perspective, faith, and commitment to family. I cannot wait to talk about his demeanor during uncertain times, like the infamous metaphor of the swan gliding across the pond.

It will be important for me mention how he confronted the issue of race head-on with an amazing speech that pressured all Americans to consider their contradictions. My story would be incomplete without the details of how he faced his opponent--an American war hero who was completely out of touch. I will be sure to mention how far too often the McCain campaign got it "wrong." I would include the arguments about Ayers, Acorn, Taxes, Joe the Plummer, the "suspension" of McCain's Campaign, and McCain's choosing Sarah Palin.

This story will go down in history much like David & Goliath.

The children and grandchildren will be fascinated, but most importantly, they will live to tell their children and the legacy will continue.

We should consider ourselves privileged to be alive in these moments.

I hope you, too, will vote Obama/Biden on Nov. 4, 2008.